Toyota FJ Cruiser Forum banner

1 - 20 of 25 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,237 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Well after almost a year of FJ ownership and activity on the forum I think it is finally time to start a build thread. I do not have tons of pictures of some of the early mods, but wanted to share my exprience of building up the FJ on a somewhat tight budget.

Purchased the vehicle on 9/04/2013 from Stevenson Toyota West in Denver Colorado. 2008 Brick A/T with 63,500 miles on the ODO. Offroad package with A-trac, Rear Locker, OEM Brush Gaurd and the 16" wheels. After negotiating the price down over a few days I got Toytota to toss in a OEM roof rack which I installed in the parking lot to avoid their quoted $500 installation fee.

Here is a shot of the vehicle as purchased at Twin Lakes a few weeks later.



I then discovered plasti-dip, and started to go crazy. Roof, Mirrors, Interior silver trim, wheels, bezel, rear bumper, and the club doors. Ended up ditching the doors and the grey on the hood a few months later. Never really liked the look but it was a fun experiment.



Shortly after I added a Ares Bull Bar (offroad training wheels) while I started to save for a proper bumper. I also picked up a pair of OEM rock sliders form local forum member WindstarFJ. Here is a photo coming down Saxon Mountain, which was my first solo offroad adventure. My friend and I made it to within 100 yards of Georgetown, and were forced to turn around due to a large and active rock slide. Coming up the trail at night during a light snow was my first experience with the puker factor.



I also put the sliders to good use, and recieved my first bit of trail damage. Notice the bottom door trim (thats why I want kickouts now!). Thankfully I had these installed, or I would have had some serious damage to the door sills.



I also added an All-Pro IFS skid plate around the same time, which I got for a steal locally, and painted red to match the body.






As you can see, my stock skids had seen some use by that time, and were ready to be replaced. To this day I am absolutely in love with the All-Pro skid and it may be one of my favorite mods. I have landed the vehicle on the skid quite a few times, and have yet to see a single dent.


Then came my first experience with mud, and the risk that goes along with offroading. I hooked up with Basil and and Skywalker for a rather late and unplanned afternoon of offroading near Eldora. As we came to the end of the trail we were all excited about playing in the large mud puddles advertised on Trail Damage. After seeing that they were iced over Basil and I decided to pass. While attempting to drive around the puddle my rig fell through the ice (we really thought we were on solid ground) and I was then stuck in this not-so-fun position.



We were able to get the vehicle pulled out rather quickly. Accessing the rear recovery point while it was under a foot of freezing water was probably the most difficult challange. After ruining a pair of boots and pants while nearly freezing to death wading in the mud (it was about 38 out) we finally arrived at a succesful recovery. The pictures below show the areas I spent 12 hours cleaning the next Sunday. If you ever happen to take a dive, keep in mind that mud loves to find its way underneath your floor liner.




After that incident I took a little break from wheeling and started to plan my next set of mods. A lift and new tires were the first thing on my list. Although I did enjoy the set of Falken High Country A/T that came with the vehicle they were almost worn out, and I needed something that would play well in all of Colorado's driving conditions and get me where I wanted to go when I hit the trails on weekends. After searching around the form and looking at some other local rigs I finally settled on a set of Duratracs in 285/75/16.

Shocks and springs were quite difficult to select. I did not have the cash to fork out for a proper coliover up front and spent a few weeks trying to decide between and OEM lift, or some type of Bilstein set up. I purchased a pair of 5100 adjustables off of craislist for the front, and WindstarFJ donated his old 5125's for the rear. Unfortunately after getting home with the craigslist 5100's I noticed that the top cap on one of the shocks was snapped off. I quickly contacted the seller (who happens to be a police officer in Littleton) and he quickly denied any knowledge of issue and said the shock was probably broken in my trunk during transport. Thankfully Miles at Toytech came to the rescue and swapped out the busted shock for a spare when I stopped by to pick up a set of superflex springs for the rear. I want to take a moment here to stress just how awesome of a company Toytech is to deal with!

While all of this was going on Basil happened to upgrade his bumper, and I jumped on the oppertunity to grab his used Trail Gear Stinger at a huge discount.

Trying to break the tac welds that hold the studs for the stock bumper was a huge pain. After a solid hour of smacking them with a hammer Basil bought himself a new toy at Home Depot and we were back on our way.




Trail Gear installed and starting snorkel prep!


All holes drilled and painted.


And here was the final result!


As you can see, the front end was sitting VERY low at this point (My A-arms were horizontal) so it was time to get the new shocks on ASAP.

After about a month of dealing with the added weight on the front I finally had a chance to attend a local mod day where I recieved a hand installing my new shocks. All of the Colorado members have been very helpful with my build and I can't thank them enough!

Here is the only photo I have of the install..


I ended up cross threading one of the bolts for the lower shock eye and was able to re-thread the bolt using a dremel. I was very lucky that the trick worked as the nearby dealerships told me it would take at least a week for the bolt to arrive. (How do they not carry them in stock!)

Then they Superflex springs and a set of Spidertrax 1.25" spacers went on the next weekend at home in my garage. My positive experience at the mod day gave me the courage I needed to work on my vehicle solo at home.



I ran out of time and was not able to get the rear shocks installed that Saturday. I loved the ride of the new springs but I was not able to remove the old shocks. I tried everything I could think of but did not want to damage them as I had a potential buyer lined up. I ended up pushing the shock as far forward as I could in the wheel well while locking a set of vice grips on the top nut and wedging them against the frame. Here is a comparison of the flex I had with the stock Bilsteins V.S. the 5125's. HUGE improvement!

Old


New!


A few weeks ago I added a Baja Rack with a few additional offroad lights. I have yet to wire them, but will report on how the proccess goes. Thinking about adding an S-pod for future electronic goodies.

Removing the old rack was a huge pain. One of the factory rack bolts quickly stripped and all efforts to get it loose ended with failure. I was forced to head in to a body shop the next day and pull the headliner so they could cut the bolt free. Turns out it had sucked about half of the mastic washer in with the threading, and siezed up over time.

The next day the rack was succesfully installed. Here is a picture next to a pretty awesome Defender.



Update 9/13/14

When I first purchased my FJ and started hitting the trails I made short work of my OEM plates. I started to look into the world of aftermarket skids but was not ready to purchase a full set at that point. Luckily I found a great deal on a used All Pro IFS plate on Ebay.

The All Pro plate was a fantastic product and protected my FJ from anything I threw at it for about a year. Now that I had upgraded my suspension and bumped up to 33" tires I was interested in attempting some more difficult trails and wanted to add some additional armor.

I had been following RCI Metalworks on the forum for a few months and was very interested in their product. The fact that their skids form a smooth surface, are built locally, and would allow me to avoid the shipping cost were the main factors for going with RCI. Thanks to the awesome deal Josh was able to give me I left with a full set of skids (Engine, Trans, Transfer Case, A-Arms, and Gas Tank) for less than the transfer case and transmission would have cost shipped from All Pro.

Now on to the good part!

Here are the skids all layed out ready for primer, paint, and install. I opted to go with bare steel on the drivetrain and aluminum for the gas tank.

(Notice that my dog has just realized he will not be going to the park today)


As you can see I also have a set of All Pro upper and lower link skids that I finally got around to installing. I had chewed up my LCA mounts on a trip to China Wall and decided that they finally needed armor as well, so I purchased the armor used from a local forum member.

Decided to go with Rustoleum colonial red (it is slightly lighter than the Brick and adds for a nice contrast)



The installation was very easy with the included instructions for reference. I was able to install the RCI skids in about an hour with help from a friend. The LCA skids were the only difficult piece of armor to install. This was a result of the damage I had already caused to the mounts on previous trail runs. After about 30 minutes with a hammer, some vice grips, and an angle grinder they fit like a glove. I was a little nervous about disconnecting the LCA for install, but the ratchet strap trick mentioned on the forum worked perfectly and I had no issue aligning the bolts.

The supplied hardware from All Pro was about 2 mm larger which required me to hammer it through the mount. Interestingly enough I saw that while the all pro bolt fits snugly into the LCA bushing itself, the OEM bolt has about 2mm of play. Feel free to chime in if anyone knows why!

And here are some photos of the skids all mounted up.



Thats everything that has been done so far. Planned mods for the future are improved front shocks, roof rack wiring, and upgrading my UCAs.

Here is a shot of the FJ as it currently sits.



PARTS IN GARAGE PENDING INSTALL

All Pro UCA's
Blue Sea Fuse Box
Contura Amber Rocker Switches
Roof Rack lights - need to wire
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
16,346 Posts
Your build is looking nice. :cheers:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
958 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
88 Posts
cool build! seems like me and you have very similar taste in mods :grin I will be following your build for sure! How do you like the snorkle? I have been thinking about getting one, but can't make myself pull the trigger yet
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,237 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
Looking good. Did you have to replace any of the wiring or electrical stuff due to water damage?
The only damage that resulted from that icy plunge was a broken VSS (vehicle speed sensor) harness on the rear axle. It was replaced by Toyota under warranty.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,237 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
cool build! seems like me and you have very similar taste in mods :grin I will be following your build for sure! How do you like the snorkle? I have been thinking about getting one, but can't make myself pull the trigger yet
Loving the snorkel so far. I went with a mega cheap version off ebay. I figure if it breaks or fades due to sun exposure I can replace it 4 times for the price of a single Safari snorkel. The only issue is that you HAVE to remember to rotate the top when driving during heavy snow storms.

Or this will happen.


Yes, thats tons of snow caught in the K&N filter. The oil will prevent anything from getting through, but you will definitely start to feel some power loss.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,237 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
Thought I would post an update after the install of my RCI skid plates. I will post the updates at the end of the thread and update my first post as well.


When I first purchased my FJ and started hitting the trails I made short work of my OEM plates. I started to look into the world of aftermarket skids but was not ready to purchase a full set at that point. Luckily I found a great deal on a used All Pro IFS plate on Ebay.

The All Pro plate was a fantastic product and protected my FJ from anything I threw at it for about a year. Now that I had upgraded my suspension and bumped up to 33" tires I was interested in attempting some more difficult trails and wanted to add some additional armor.

I had been following RCI Metalworks on the forum for a few months and was very interested in their product. The fact that their skids form a smooth surface, are built locally, and would allow me to avoid the shipping cost were the main factors for going with RCI. Thanks to the awesome deal Josh was able to give me I left with a full set of skids (Engine, Trans, Transfer Case, A-Arms, and Gas Tank) for less than the transfer case and transmission would have cost shipped from All Pro.

Now on to the good part!

Here are the skids all layed out ready for primer, paint, and install. I opted to go with bare steel on the drivetrain and aluminum for the gas tank.

(Notice that my dog has just realized he will not be going to the park today)


As you can see I also have a set of All Pro upper and lower link skids that I finally got around to installing. I had chewed up my LCA mounts on a trip to China Wall and decided that they finally needed armor as well, so I purchased the armor used from a local forum member.

Decided to go with Rustoleum colonial red (it is slightly lighter than the Brick and adds for a nice contrast)



The installation was very easy with the included instructions for reference. I was able to install the RCI skids in about an hour with help from a friend. The LCA skids were the only difficult piece of armor to install. This was a result of the damage I had already caused to the mounts on previous trail runs. After about 30 minutes with a hammer, some vice grips, and an angle grinder they fit like a glove. I was a little nervous about disconnecting the LCA for install, but the ratchet strap trick mentioned on the forum worked perfectly and I had no issue aligning the bolts.

The supplied hardware from All Pro was about 2 mm larger which required me to hammer it through the mount. Interestingly enough I saw that while the all pro bolt fits snugly into the LCA bushing itself, the OEM bolt has about 2mm of play. Feel free to chime in if anyone knows why!

And here are some photos of the skids all mounted up.



I will add a review of the RCI skids once I have a chance to hit the trails and start scraping them up.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,237 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
Guess it is time for an update. I have honestly been pretty bad about managing this build thread... Might reformat it in a few days if I find the time.

I removed the Plasti-dip from the roof which ended up being a horrible experience. I may have applied it a little too thin, but I think the year of solid sun exposure really caused it to degrade, as my mirrors peeled clean in a few minutes. In the end I was forced to coat the roof with goof off and hit it with a plastic paint scraper. Thankfully everything is back to normal with no damage done outside of my wallet.

I also found a few rocks laying around the yard and...... well you know how it goes!



My stock battery finally died, and I chose to replace it with a Diehard PM1. The battery barley fits into the stock location, and overhangs the tray by about a 1/4", however the tiedown has held it firmly in place since installation.



While the rack was removed I decided to rewire the lights, and installed a Blue Sea aux fuse box along with 4 amber rocker switches for my LED's. (Front, Left, Right, and Rear)

The current plan is to drill a hole in the roof above the rear hatch and use watertight a passthrough fitting like this -> http://www.amazon.com/Waterproof-Electrical-Deck-7-Pin-Connector/dp/B008BXFLT8/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1422422658&sr=8-5&keywords=deck+connector We frequently use multi cable for lighting in my industry, so it makes sense to wire the lights this way and will make any future removal of the rack an easy process.




And yes.... My roommate was on his back fiddling with placement long enough that we managed to install the panel upside down! I guess I can just reverse the fuses and pretend it didn't happen.
 
1 - 20 of 25 Posts
Top